It sounds like something straight out of Star Trek, but a new pair of augmented reality glasses launching in the UK today claim to be able to project a cinema-sized screen in front of your eyes.
The Nreal Air glasses, which are being launched by UK mobile network EE, look like a normal pair of sunglasses from the front, but have an OLED display hidden behind the lenses.
When connected to a smartphone, these can project an ‘Imax-sized’ 201-inch virtual screen at a distance of 20 feet in front of your eyes, allowing users to stream movies and games over 5G on the go.
The glasses can also be used to mirror a connected smartphone screen or explore augmented reality apps.
The Nreal Air will go on sale through EE later in the spring, the network confirmed, with full pricing and availability still to be announced.
When connected to a smartphone, the Nreal Air can project an ‘Imax-sized’ 201-inch virtual screen at a distance of 20 feet in front of your eyes
They look like a normal pair of sunglasses from the front, but have an OLED display hidden behind the lenses
Nreal Air specs
Size: 148mm x 52mm x 159mm (opened)
Power: Up to 5 hours video streaming in Air Casting mode
Display: Full HD 3840×1080 OLED
Audio: 2 open-ear speakers with bass boost and noice cancellation
Position tracking: 3 degrees of freedom head tracking
Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Accessories: prescription-lens frame, case, cleaning cloth, light shield
‘We’re working with the best content providers and the most innovative technology companies in the world to create entirely new experiences for our customers,’ EE’s director of devices and partnerships, Alistair Wilson, said.
‘Nreal are at the forefront of AR, and we’re delighted to be the exclusive UK partner for the launch of their new Nreal Air AR glasses.
‘When combined with the power of 5G, it really does open up new possibilities for seamless streaming and access to new types of content on the move – these are really exciting times for mobile.’
Augmented reality is when virtual objects or content are overlaid on to the real world.
This is becoming an increasingly popular technology through gadgets such as smart glasses, but also through smartphone cameras and games such as Pokemon Go.
The Government has predicted a 78% increase in spending on augmented and virtual reality between 2019 and 2024.
Meanwhile EE said it had found more than a third of people (35%) were interested in a way of making big-screen experiences more mobile.
The glasses are slim, lightweight and comfortable to wear on longer journeys, providing an immersive experience on the go
Nreal Air glasses also come with a small compact carry case, which makes them easy to slip into a pocket or bag
Nreal Air supports two different modes. In ‘Air Casting’ mode, customers can mirror their phone screen and enjoy their entire mobile experience on a 130-inch HD virtual display.
The ‘MR Space’ mode takes customers into a ‘Mixed Reality’ environment and gives them a taste of innovative AR technologies.
For example, by ‘pinning’ multiple virtual screens in a 3D space, they can experience stationary cycling exercises in an immersive AR environment, while exploring an expanding array of AR apps.
Nreal co-founder Peng Jin said the company was ‘delighted’ to come to the UK with EE.
With the latest AR technology, fine-tuned audio, and a massive 201-inch expanded Full HD virtual display, Nreal Air allows users to experience digital content on the move
‘At Nreal, we’re passionate about bringing AR into consumers’ everyday lives, which will start a revolutionary transformation just as the internet once did,’ he said.
‘AR will transcend the current mobile experience, especially when it comes to watching videos, exercising, and playing PC and cloud video games.
‘As we continue to enrich the AR ecosystem with each update and upgrade, consumers will enjoy more mind-blowing digital innovations and experiences blended into everyday life.’
Compatible with a range of smartphones from the world’s leading manufacturers, the glasses work in conjunction with the Nreal Nebula app, which launches the AR operating environment for the end user.
Unlike most AR glasses, Nreal Air can also be kitted out with a lens frame for the individuals own prescription lenses — meaning customers do not have to use them with their normal glasses underneath.